La. Woman Files Lawsuit, Claims Taser Caused Miscarriage

HOUMA, La. --

A Houma woman is suing the Louisiana State Police and Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office, claiming a trooper's use of a Taser caused her to miscarry.

Attorney Matthew Ory told WDSU his client, Madeline Cunningham, was arrested at her home following reports of a domestic disturbance. Ory said a trooper placed Cunningham in handcuffs and leg shackles and directed her to the back seat of a patrol car.

"The restrains were extremely tight, and she tried to get their attention," he said. At that point, Ory claims Cunningham "used her feet to hit the window."

The force of those kicks broke the glass, and, according to the lawsuit, that was when Cunningham was removed and subdued with a Taser. The lawsuit claims she was shocked several times, in the neck and stomach.

Cunningham was booked and released from jail. The lawsuit claims she miscarried eight days later.

Ory said doctors told his client that the incident resulted in the termination of her six-week pregnancy.

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois defended the action of his deputy, who responded as backup.

"She was very combative -- they have evidence of that," he said. "She was very violent ... cursing a lot ... very abusive. It took both officers to restrain her and to handcuff her."

Ory said despite Cunningham's resistance, the officers' response was excessive.

"Just because someone is out of control does not give you the right to use a Taser," he said.

Because of a backlog of cases, the trial is not expected to take place for many months.

Louisiana State Police confirmed that a subpoena was served last Friday but reserved comment, pending a review of the matter.

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